When Apple first released the second generation Apple TV, some of us saw the genius of the little hockey puck sized $99 accessory immediately. It doesn’t take up much room, connects while hooking up using only as few as two cables, and offers a user interface so simple anyone can run it using the tiny aluminum remote and it’s three buttons and a four-way circle button.
At first Apple called Apple TV a hobby, but lately we’ve seen them give it more love with a few major updates. Since launching the second generation Apple TV, Apple’s added a bunch of new “channels’ to the original offerings. We now get some great sports content from MLB, NHL, NBA and now Watch ESPN. Movie and TV lovers can watch content from HBO Go, Hulu Plus and more. They’ve added some more music, news and kids programming too.
How could it get better?
At the Apple event today we will hear about the new iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C as well as iOS 7. We don’t expect to hear much about iPad, Macs or the Apple TV. We wish we were going to hear about a new Apple TV full of new features, but it looks like we are just in for a software update.
Apple will add iTunes radio, but here’s what we’d like Apple to do to make the Apple TV truly awesome.
Apple TV Needs Real Apps
First, add storage so we can install a limited number of Apple TV apps. Create a special SDK just for Apple TV apps. Now that users can connect a Bluetooth keyboard or control it through an iOS device, this seems like an obvious upgrade. We still can’t figure out why Apple doesn’t do this. People could watch a movie and then type a paper using the keyboard and their TV.
Apple’s all about finding ways to make more money. We’d love to see them do it again with a special SDK that could allow developers to easily add special controls to their apps and games to use them on a TV. We can already do this a little with some games, like Real Racing. Apple could make a killing turning the Apple TV into an iOS gaming platform using other iOS devices or a Bluetooth keyboard/mouse as a controller.
To make the Apple TV an even greater gaming box they should buy OnLive. OnLive figured out how to stream games over the Internet using a cheap set-top box that doesn’t need the latest graphics encoding hardware. All the hard work gets done on the OnLive servers only the video comes through our Internet connection to the tiny set-top box. Apple should buy the struggling company, merge it into the Apple TV and make more money on subscriptions and add-on Bluetooth gaming controllers which they’d likely sell for $40.
Only a lack of great games kept OnLive from succeeding. It has a few, but not what it needed to gain critical mass. Apple has the power and funds to make it work and the Apple TV seems like a good marriage partner for the service.
Live TV Streaming
Entertainment consumers want live TV streaming so bad it hurts, but it scares content makers. It’s time for a powerful, cash rich company like Apple to tip this revolution over the edge into reality.
Apple needs to throw some cash at the networks or better yet at the producers, cutting out the network middle men and women. Who doesn’t want a $100 box that will stream live and on demand TV shows or sporting events. I’d pay double for a box that also offers an à la carte subscription for my favorite networks and sports leagues if the price was right. They already do it with baseball, basketball and hockey. Apple should get in on bidding for the NFL and give the MLS a call too.
FaceTime works on an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Mac. Why not on an Apple TV? The living room seems like a better place to put the service since it caters to families who want to connect visually over long distances. Plenty of people video chat with the grandparents who want to see the grandkids grow up even though they live a thousand for five thousand miles away.
The Apple TV already ships with a USB port. Add a camera via the port as an accessory and let people connect. Get a wider view of the living room so that the whole family can show off their Christmas sweaters that grandma knitted for them.
Pico Projector with Battery Pack
The Apple TV already comes with WiFi. A battery would make it more mobile, but a pico projector with battery turns it into a mobile viewing tool. Any wall or sheet can become a large screen for watching movies or playing games.
We’ve reviewed a battery and portable pico projector that connected to the iPhone and worked adequately. Apple could create a similar add-on for the Apple TV that connects to the power and HDMI ports on the Apple TV. All we’d need is a decent pair of speakers. Use the awesome Braven 850 or 855s speakers that really fill a room or backyard. Apple can afford to make an awesome pico projector.